Why Bananas

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Lumepa Hald

Well, how does the morning break for you besides prayers? I am at a crossroads with words and waking up with birds chirping.

To have literal diarrhea is a twofold humanity in one person. I think of words in walls written by Shakespeare and Rumi on one side and John Cleese on the other.

You can guess why it is best to keep it that way because only one of each at their best is terrible for yours truly. 

But one has to have reason to wake up inspired to write. It is never easy to write from nothing. I am writing for a waitress who has lived in my mind since last week to explain her thriving existence in my head and why. 

 

Dear Waitress, 

Though you do not know me, you will be happy to find me some day smiling at you. I write this for you. 

While you have no training, and by that I mean, the plates that came flying from your hands to our table were filled with water. I was ok with that. I forgave it. In fact, I was giggling at the comedy. But I worried for you when you went to the table next to us. They were tourists. Foreigners who come to read of our country, from your hands and eyes as well as from your dress and the way you leaned on their table as if you were hanging out. 

Well, if that last plate was not filled with water from the preceding plates, you would not have spilled the water on the floor and splashed the man’s shoes. I know because you were instantly realizing your mistake. So your tactic to save the day with the tissue from his fork was not ideal but in the heat of the moment, I saw nothing else useful aside from your own shirt or the table cloth. 

My dear, I felt for you when he asked what the most popular dish was in those exact dreadful words. Your silence broke me. But he made it clear again and by slowing down his speech. I felt the whole colony of Germania come alive, though I believe he was English. If there was a shovel, I would have helped dig the ground he was sitting on to hurry you on to the next table. 

But I braved to observe you none the less. I am sorry I distracted you when I called you to come while he was asking you about how big the dishes would be. I had to tell you as I may have lacked the courage to tell him myself, or maybe I wanted you to shine. But that is self-motivating too, so how can I cry? You came over to me anyway, despite his confusion, which you cured with returning to show him every food on the menu was the best ever.

The thing is, a Chinese restaurant is not your fault. When you said pasta was the most popular dish, you raised the dead. I laughed at the irony of Italy and China together. But for the Chinese restaurant, you can pass as a non speaker of both Chinese and English in it. But I wonder if you can recommend to your employer the use of sticks with pictures on them so that the guests who do not speak Samoan can place them on the table for you, so that you can take them as the orders. It would save you from leaning forward to read the lips of the inundated. 

So while this letter in my morning is for you, it is also for your employer, and for all the young ladies struggling to smile and work in an environment colored with different people, when you could be tooled with knowledge to battle your day. I understand if you cry or better, laugh, in the kitchen sometimes. I know the way those guests can be threatening with their comments such as the one that man made when you took off to look for what I believe you had no idea what it was, as it was a flaming “sauvignon blanc”. You would expect the smarter people to translate sav to white wine, serviettes to tissues, and popular food to best Chinese dish, if your face was going to be blank white page throughout the conversation. 

I heard the guest say on your behalf, 

“The service here is worse than New Zealand.” 

Well, I have no time to ponder on New Zealand but I understand my dear if you have only the flag of your country in front of you. 

So here is my letter for you, in the hope that some other waitress and those ladies working hard to earn a livelihood, who feel the same as you, helpless, could be given a chance to learn more and love their jobs more. So that you won’t be lonely, or ever doubting that the motivation of going to work is the start of a wonderful day any day.

But before I go, dear waitress, I want you to know, that there is a secret to many tourists who come here. You can tell your employer too if he or she is willing to help you. The world outside is addicted to Wifi. When you have it in the restaurants, the hotels, the airports, the loo even, you won’t need to answer so many questions because everyone peculiarly like to stare at their phones. 

But I love to play with words and I like to spell wifi as whyfai. It is translated to our mother tongue as what is the reason for bananas less the apostrophe? So if you ever come across the tourist or the local person slash guest who gives you a hard time, you know he or she has been affected by the disease of too much awareness. So say to them politely and with your best smile, 

“ Why bananas?” 

And if the employers you encounter seem to not comprehend your lost journey, say to them with humility,

“Nothing comes from nothing.”

God bless you for bravely contributing to the building of roads, bridges, giving water to the country and electricity to even the remotest village in Savaii, despite your lack of training. But this humble letter hopes for you, so that when you are lonely and feeling helpless, remember, you too are important!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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